This is one of those news stories that will just make you hate everything. An Australian couple used a Thai surrogate because they could not conceive on their own. The surrogate gave birth to twins; a healthy girl and a boy with a congenital heart defect and Down syndrome. The couple took the girl home, and abandoned their male infant with the Thai surrogate.
Pattharamon Janbua, 21, does not have the means to care for the critically ill child. She and her husband decided on surrogacy to begin with to help them through a hard financial time. She was paid $11,700 for the surrogacy – with an extra $1673 when they found out she was pregnant with twins. When genetic tests came back and the couple realized one of the twins had Down syndrome, they tried to get Janbua to have an abortion – something she refused because it’s against her Buddhist beliefs. When the babies were born, the agent took the healthy girl and left the boy with her. As if all of this wasn’t terrible enough, they’ve separated twins.
The case has turned surrogacy laws in Thai upside down. On Wednesday, senior Thai health and legal officials declared that the only legal surrogacy cases were “those in which a married couple cannot conceive a child and engage a blood relative to carry their child in an altruistic surrogacy arrangement.” From The Sydney Morning Herald:
They declared as illegal any surrogacy arrangement commissioned by an unmarried couple or a couple whose marriage is not legal in Thailand, such as a same-sex couple.
Any arrangement in which money was provided to the surrogate to carry the child was also illegal, they said.
And any foreigner removing a child from its mother to another country permanently without permission from Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs would be violating the country’s human trafficking laws.
Commercial surrogacy has been largely unregulated in Thailand, so these new developments are going to affect a lot of couples. Clearly, the regulation is needed. Sam Everingham, director of Families Through Surrogacy says: “It’s a really sad story but not the first case we have seen in this area,” he said. “There have been recent tragic cases of foreign parents not accepting disabled children born through surrogacy.” He adds that “commercial surrogacy was not generally accepted” in Thai society and has been done discreetly for years.
A “Hope for Gammy” Go Fund Me page is raising money for a series of operations the boy desperately needs and to help his mother care for him. It’s unfathomable that parents could choose to abandon one of their twin children because of health problems. What are they going to tell his sister? Are thy just going to never mention that she had a twin? Do his congenital birth defects mean that he should just disappear? This is beyond horrible. Hopefully the child will get the medical help he needs and grow up loved.